Daisy Pearce was best on ground.
Daisy Pearce was best on ground.

‘Most selfish player’: Ex-AFLW coach’s cryptic sledge

THE Demons face a nervous wait amid fears they may have lost another player to an ACL injury.

Ainslie Kemp - who plays without a fully functioning right ACL after previously returning from the injury without surgery - was felled in the dying second of Friday night's 20-point Melbourne victory over the Western Bulldogs at Whitten Oval.

It looked to be a textbook ACL mechanism to her left knee and the 22-year-old was in tears after the match.

Kemp could be the eighth AFLW player to suffer the injury this preseason and season proper.

But coach Mick Stinear - who already lost defender Katherine Smith and Shae Sloane to the injury before Christmas - did his best to remain optimistic.

"It looked like a knee, but we haven't heard any more," he said.

 

"She's an incredibly powerful athlete and player. So she's done well to be able to get back to this position.

"But she hasn't had a good run at AFLW, unfortunately, but fingers crossed it's nothing too severe."

Stinear said it had been a "competition-wide" trend for the worst case to be feared when a player went down.

"Competition-wide, players are on edge a little bit because they've been popping up too frequently unfortunately," he said.

Ainslie Kemp of the Demons leaves the field injured. Picture: Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images
Ainslie Kemp of the Demons leaves the field injured. Picture: Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images

"The depth of our list is a strength of ours, so if Kempy's not available next week, there's other players who are playing in a practice match (today) against the Bulldogs VFLW who will get a chance to step up."

THE FAITHFULS UNITE

It was a night for the originals.

The competition's next generation might have taken the limelight in the opening round of AFL Women's, but on Friday night it was the old guard who showed them just how it's done.

Almost a year to the day since Daisy Pearce was in the delivery suite for twins Roy and Sylvie to come "earthside", the star midfielder proved a class above.

With trusty comrades Karen Paxman and Shelley Scott alongside her, the clean hands of Pearce and her crew were so valuable as Melbourne weather wreaked havoc with traffic both on and off the field.

"Obviously (Daisy) is a great leader and a great player and just a classic person to have around," she said.

"It's great having her back and a massive addition back into the side. I love playing alongside her - I have for many years now, so it's great having her back and she did great tonight, too."

 

The Demons took out the Hampson–Hardeman Cup.
The Demons took out the Hampson–Hardeman Cup.

WHERE IT ALL BEGAN

The Hampson-Hardeman Cup has become one of the jewels in the crown of AFLW, with former Fremantle coach Michelle Cowan lauding the match this week as a potential season-opener in years to come.

And Paxman agrees.

"The Doggies and Melbourne have been frontrunners in women's footy and pushed women's footy to the spotlight and enabled the AFLW to kick off a lot quicker than it might have," she said.

"It'd be awesome to kick off the season with a Doggies versus Dees game. It holds a fair bit more significance, I think, this round than the others. A lot of girls have a lot of history with each other."

Many supporters opted to watch on from home rather than brave the humidity, at times howling winds and driving rain, with 3133 people turning out to see two women's football powerhouses go toe-to-toe in a fierce contest.

DOG'S TONGUES WAGGING

Former coach Paul Groves set a cat among the pigeons after half-time.

"Most selfish player I've ever coached," the premiership coach tweeted.

"Ungrateful. Cracks were caused by said person. You play footy to create friendships. Shame."

The tweet didn't last more than five minutes before it was wiped from his feed.

Former coach coach Paul Groves quickly deleted his tweet. Picture: Mark Stewart
Former coach coach Paul Groves quickly deleted his tweet. Picture: Mark Stewart

There was no reference to the player in question, with Groves also having a history of coaching men's football.

Groves resigned from the club in June last year, having been the club's coach for the first three seasons of AFLW, returning to a teaching leadership position.

The mystery remains.

VOTES

3 Daisy Pearce

2 Karen Paxman

1 Shelley Scott

BEST

WESTERN BULLDOGS: McCarthy, Blackburn, Lamb, Ferres, Newton

MELBOURNE: Pearce, Paxman, Scott, Hore, Gay, Heath

ATTENDANCE: 3133

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